J. Bruce Harreld

Senior Lecturer of Business Administration

Bruce Harreld retired from IBM in 2008 and joined Harvard Business School's faculty in early 2009.  He is a frequent speaker and writer on implementing strategy, corporate transformation, and building new businesses in established organizations.  He currently teaches two quite popular second year MBA courses focused on turnarounds and executing strategy.  He teaches in numerous executive programs and is the faculty chair of "Building New Businesses within Established Organizations".

Joining IBM in October 1995, he worked to chart IBM’s transformation and to ensure that IBM’s early-90s "near-death experience" will never happen again.  From 1995 to his retirement in 2008 Mr. Harreld led IBM’s Strategy unit, which was responsible for the formulation and execution of the company’s overall strategy.  As part of this responsibility, Mr. Harreld directed IBM’s Emerging Business Opportunities (EBO) program, a unique management system producing more than 20 new businesses for IBM – including multi-billion-dollar businesses in Life Sciences, Linux, Pervasive Computing, and Digital Media.  The EBO program has become a model for growth inside IBM, and has attracted attention from leading academic institutions as well as companies seeking to build new businesses. From 2006 to 2008, Mr. Harreld also served as senior vice president for IBM Marketing.  In that capacity, he led IBM's marketing efforts which encompassed a wide range of growth activities designed to identify market opportunities, develop and communicate IBM’s value proposition, coordinate go-to-market activities, as well as protect and strengthen the IBM brand, which is one of the most valued brands in the world.

Prior to joining IBM, Mr. Harreld was president of Boston Chicken, Inc., and served on the faculty of Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management.  He also held CIO and several line management positions at Kraft General Foods, Inc., and began his career at The Boston Consulting Group where he served as an officer and director. Mr. Harreld holds an MBA degree from Harvard University and a BS in industrial engineering and operations research from Purdue University.

Journal Articles

  1. The Art of Strategic Renewal

    In recent years, we have seen well-established companies such as Kodak, Blockbuster, Nokia, and BlackBerry pushed to the brink by smart competitors and changes in their industries. In each case, there were opportunities to act before a crisis engulfed the organization. At Kodak, for example, CEO George Fisher attempted to move the company into the digital era in the 1990s. However, he was unable to change course quickly enough. Fisher had an opportunity; his successor had a crisis. What can leaders do before the depth and scope of their companies' crises come into focus? How can they initiate major transformations proactively? As researchers and managers who have been involved in numerous corporate transformations in recent years, we have learned that applying standard formulae to corporate transformations is, at best, ineffective and, at worst, dangerous. What's needed is a new approach that enables executives to transform organizations proactively without resorting to fear.

    Keywords: Organizational Change and Adaptation;

    Citation:

    Binns, Andy, J. Bruce Harreld, Charles A. O'Reilly, and Michael L. Tushman. "The Art of Strategic Renewal." MIT Sloan Management Review 55, no. 2 (Winter 2014): 21–23.
  2. Six Ways to Sink a Growth Initiative

    The conventional wisdom about how best to pursue growth—launch a slew of initiatives in high-potential areas; appoint some promising young managers to lead them; locate them safely away from the established businesses—is a recipe for failure, according to the authors. Meanwhile, CEOs spend too much time on managing today's earnings and too little time on building the kind of learning organization and culture that growth requires. This article explores six common mistakes that executives make in this arena: 1) Failing to provide the right kind of oversight. The CEO should spend meaningful time with the team and with potential customers; 2) Not putting the best, most experienced talent in charge. Seasoned executives in the core businesses, rather than ambitious young MBAs, should be assigned to growth initiatives; 3) Assembling the wrong team and staffing up prematurely. CEOs should focus on capabilities, not who's available, and staff up only when the strategy, business model, and value proposition are clear; 4) Taking the wrong approach to performance assessment. Milestones relevant to each stage of an initiative's development should be established, and key assumptions in the business plan should be linked to the financial forecast; 5) Not knowing how to fund and govern a start-up. The funding of early-stage ventures should be separated from the corporation's annual budget cycle; 6) Failing to leverage the organization's core capabilities. CEOs must play a central role in helping growth initiatives tap the resources of the core businesses.

    Keywords: Failure; Growth and Development Strategy;

    Citation:

    Laurie, Donald L., and J. Bruce Harreld. "Six Ways to Sink a Growth Initiative." Harvard Business Review 91, nos. 7/8 (July–August 2013): 82–90.
  3. Organizational Ambidexterity: IBM and Emerging Business Opportunities

    Keywords: Organizational Change and Adaptation; Management Skills; Competitive Advantage; Leadership; Theory; Technology Industry;

    Citation:

    O'Reilly, Charles A., III, J. Bruce Harreld, and Michael L. Tushman. "Organizational Ambidexterity: IBM and Emerging Business Opportunities." California Management Review (summer 2009): 75–99. (Winner of Accenture Award for the article published in the California Management Review that has made the most important contribution to improving the practice of management​.)
  4. Dynamic Capabilities at IBM: Driving Strategy into Action

    Keywords: Strategy; Technology; Manufacturing Industry; Consumer Products Industry; Computer Industry;

    Citation:

    Harreld, J. Bruce, Charles A. O’Reilly III, and Michael L. Tushman. "Dynamic Capabilities at IBM: Driving Strategy into Action." California Management Review 49, no. 4 (summer 2007).

Book Chapters

  1. Building Smarter, Faster Organizations

    Keywords: Organizational Design; Organizational Structure; Performance Efficiency;

    Citation:

    Harreld, J. Bruce. "Building Smarter, Faster Organizations." In Blueprint to the Digital Economy, edited by D. Tapscott, A. Lowy, and D. Ticoll. McGraw-Hill, 1998.

Working Papers

  1. Leading Strategic Renewal: Proactive Punctuated Change through Innovation Streams and Disciplined Learning

    Citation:

    Tushman, Michael, Charles A. OReilly, and J. Bruce Harreld. "Leading Strategic Renewal: Proactive Punctuated Change through Innovation Streams and Disciplined Learning." 2013.
  2. Don't Just Survive - Thrive: Leading Innovation in Good Times and Bad

    Battered by contracting markets and frozen credit, many businesses today are fighting for survival. Indeed, the current global financial crisis provides a mandate for restructuring. But survival is not the end goal. In fact, cost cutting and restructuring are simply the first steps in repositioning and leading a company and industry through the crisis and in defining how business will be conducted in the future. This paper describes how IBM managed to, not just survive the crisis it faced in the early 1990s, but to reposition the company to lead the industry. The powerful lesson from the IBM story is that innovation is not a side business to running the real business. Innovation is the business. Breakthrough innovations that change people's lives and the very structure and power dynamics of industries can't be managed as "silos," tucked away in corporate, university, or government research labs, in incubators, or within venture capital funded entrepreneurial start-ups. Access to the marketplace is needed to help speed commercialization and adoption. Emerging opportunities must be nurtured and the transition to high growth must be managed. Once breakthrough innovations catch hold, growth must be funded and managed to exploit the full value of the opportunity. And finally, incremental innovations must ensure that businesses that have passed through the high growth stage can continue to deliver the resources, capabilities, and platforms needed to fuel the emerging opportunities of the future. This business lifecycle view of innovation requires new leadership and organizational models and new approaches to managing risk and uncertainty.

    Keywords: Organizational Change and Adaptation; Risk Management; Leading Change; Innovation and Management; Crisis Management; Growth and Development Strategy;

    Citation:

    Applegate, Lynda M., and J. Bruce Harreld. "Don't Just Survive - Thrive: Leading Innovation in Good Times and Bad." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 09-127, April 2009. (Revised May 2009.)

Cases and Teaching Materials

  1. Jamba Juice (B)

    James White, the new CEO of Jamba Juice, has successfully averted bankruptcy and must now decide the future path for Jamba Juice, the leader in the smoothie and fresh bar industry. This two-part case presents the various strategic options White is considering. It then asks participants to determine the best strategic path and how this path should be specifically implemented. The follow-on B case describes what White actually did and presents the results.

    Keywords: beverage industry; turnarounds; strategic change; strategy execution; turnaround; leadership; Consumer marketing; Franchising; Food retail franchising; Strategy; Leadership; Food and Beverage Industry; United States;

    Citation:

    Harreld, J. Bruce, and Christian Karega. "Jamba Juice (B)." Harvard Business School Supplement 713-537, June 2013.
  2. Jamba Juice (A)

    James White, the new CEO of Jamba Juice, has successfully averted bankruptcy and must now decide the future path for Jamba Juice, the leader in the smoothie and fresh bar industry. This two-part case presents the various strategic options White is considering. It then asks participants to determine the best strategic path and how this path should be specifically implemented. The follow-on B case describes what White actually did and presents the results.

    Keywords: beverage industry; strategy execution; turnarounds; leadership; Consumer marketing; Franchising; Food retail franchising; Strategy; Leadership; Food and Beverage Industry; United States;

    Citation:

    Harreld, J. Bruce, and Christian Karega. "Jamba Juice (A)." Harvard Business School Case 713-536, June 2013.
  3. Chrysler Fiat 2009

    In spring 2009, Chrysler entered a prepackaged bankruptcy and exited 40 days later in a deal with Fiat, the U.S. Treasury, and the UAW that kept the automaker alive. Looking forward, what was necessary for Chrysler to move beyond the life support it had received? What was possible? Looking back, how should the company's restructuring be assessed?

    Keywords: Restructuring; Leadership Development; Alliances; Business Strategy; Growth and Development Strategy; Business Growth and Maturation; Financial Condition; Auto Industry;

    Citation:

    Harreld, J. Bruce, Paul W. Marshall, and David Lane. "Chrysler Fiat 2009." Harvard Business School Case 811-030, November 2010. (Revised August 2013.)
  4. Chrysler Fiat 2009 (TN)

    Citation:

    Harreld, J. Bruce. "Chrysler Fiat 2009 (TN)." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 812-145, April 2012.
  5. Felipe Calderón: Leading with Light and Power (A)

    This sequence of cases explores how leaders get their team focused on framing, analyzing, and ultimately acting upon complex decisions. The A case provides an inside look as President of Mexico, Felipe Calderon, works with his cabinet ministers to decide how to turnaround a corrupt, highly unionized, and poorly managed state-owned company which distributes electrical energy to Mexico City and the surrounding environs. While previous administrations over several decades were aware of the problem, none wanted to risk the political or economic consequences of prolonged strikes and power outages in one of the world's most populous cities. Yet, it is now clear that the company's poor financial performance and corruption are causing significant harm to Mexico. A central theme is the president's role in making sure his team has done its homework and is fully prepared to make the appropriate decision. The B case, to be handed out during class, provides the actual decision criteria used. The C case, to be handed out at the end of class, describes what the team ultimately decided and how they executed it.

    Keywords: Crime and Corruption; Decisions; Public Sector; Leadership; Conflict and Resolution; Power and Influence; Urban Development; Welfare or Wellbeing;

    Citation:

    Harreld, J. Bruce, and David Lane. "Felipe Calderón: Leading with Light and Power (A)." Harvard Business School Case 811-024, April 2011.
  6. Felipe Calderón: Leading with Light and Power (B)

    This sequence of cases explores how leaders get their team focused on framing, analyzing, and ultimately acting upon complex decisions. The A case provides an inside look as President of Mexico, Felipe Calderon, works with his cabinet ministers to decide how to turnaround a corrupt, highly unionized, and poorly managed state-owned company which distributes electrical energy to Mexico City and the surrounding environs. While previous administrations over several decades were aware of the problem, none wanted to risk the political or economic consequences of prolonged strikes and power outages in one of the world's most populous cities. Yet, it is now clear that the company's poor financial performance and corruption are causing significant harm to Mexico. A central theme is the president's role in making sure his team has done its homework and is fully prepared to make the appropriate decision. The B case, to be handed out during class, provides the actual decision criteria used. The C case, to be handed out at the end of class, describes what the team ultimately decided and how they executed it.

    Keywords: Management Analysis, Tools, and Techniques; Decision Choices and Conditions; Cases; Crime and Corruption; State Ownership; Business or Company Management; Economics; Risk and Uncertainty; Finance; Performance; Management Teams; Strategic Planning; Energy Industry; Mexico City;

    Citation:

    Harreld, J. Bruce, and David Lane. "Felipe Calderón: Leading with Light and Power (B)." Harvard Business School Supplement 811-080, April 2011.
  7. Finance Myopia in a Systems Business

    This short case describes the tensions that often arise between finance executives attempting to curtail unproductive activities and strategy executives trying to optimize overall firm performance.

    Keywords: Finance; Managerial Roles; Performance Improvement; Performance Productivity; Conflict and Resolution; Strategy; Competition;

    Citation:

    Harreld, J. Bruce. "Finance Myopia in a Systems Business." Harvard Business School Case 810-071, November 2009.
  8. Executing Strategy

    This is a note to introduce the principles for effectively implementing a new strategy. It emphasizes the interdependence of strategy and execution in developing and sustaining superior competitive performance. Primarily based on the notion that strategy should be a continual activity conducted by general managers, it outlines a practical methodology for realigning a firm's executional model whenever strategy changes.

    Keywords: Alignment; Competitive Strategy; Management Teams;

    Citation:

    Harreld, J. Bruce. "Executing Strategy." Harvard Business School Background Note 809-126, March 2009. (Revised May 2009.)